Interview – Ujjyaini Mitra, Head of Analytics at Bharti Airtel


As Head Analytics of Airtel’s mobility business, Ujjyaini plays the role of Subject Matter Expert in Analytics with a special focus to consumer’s Usage and Retention (UnR) & Pricing across Airtel’s product family, Customer service Experience and Market Research.

Along with building highly complex marketing models in Big Data space to achieve high revenue growth via right contextual marketing and enhanced customers’ life cycle value, she mentors the business leaders to draw right insights from the structured and unstructured data or reports. At the same time, she hand holds the junior members to break the business problem into impactful and actionable business analysis and to story line the findings.


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We sit with Ujjyaini to learn more about her thoughts on analytics.

[dropcap]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: Ujjyaini, thanks for speaking to us. From a bird’s eye view, tell us about analytics within Airtel.

[dropcap]UM[/dropcap]Ujjyaini Mitra: Analytics is an integrated part of Business Intelligence in Airtel. Business decisions are confluence of data driven insights and external market knowledge. Be it measuring campaign efficacy scientifically or taking complex decision of where to open new Airtel Store – are driven analytically backed by data in Airtel.

Airtel follows an approach of ‘issue-to-outcome’, where Analytics is infused to draw right information, information driven insights and thus implementation. So, Analytics is used at every stage of taking business decisions. Airtel adopted Analytics around 2009-10 while Airtel tied up with a Globally acclaimed business Management firm to start their journey on Consumer Life Cycle Management factory (CLM factory).

Today this factory is the Marketing lifeline in terms of Marketing Operations and measuring Marketing Outcomes. Following is a slide to show how Airtel takes Business decisions infused with data driven Analytics. Thus Airtel got benefitted everyway, starting from right customer acquisition module, improving campaign hit rate through right targeting of customers, improved ROI through right pricing, enhanced Customer Satisfaction and thus ‘winning customers for life’.


AIM: Can you brief about some of the analytics solutions that you work on?

UM: All my current works has few basic goal – a) improve ROI, b) improve customer life. Therefore, customer interactions through every touch points can be integrated towards more contextual, timely and easily adoptable campaigns or communications.

Airtel not necessarily do everything in house. In fact, Airtel has a great eco system of outsourcing the operation and partnering with world’s giant knowledge hubs and experts. We build the solution jointly, customized to Airtel’s expectations. So that complex models can give birth of simple solutions to implement seamlessly. All Analytic solutions are built keeping ‘Customers’ in focus, so that, every department work towards the same focus point and outcome become customer centric.

AIM: Can you brief us about a specific use case in analytics that has brought significant value to Airtel?

UM: Last year I established a world class and completely automated measuring tool for all Airtel campaigns. So, earlier, where, it was not easy to measure right efficacy of the campaigns due to leakage in calculation, I have made it scientific and water tight. It is being automated, no human effort is required in calculation.

CLM team, therefore, seamlessly prepare the ROI reports at any number of granular time frame. UnR team, Pricing team centrally and across circle can take a faster decision on which campaign is doing well, which is not, which one to continue, which one to stop, which campaign’s pricing needs to be changed vs which campaign’s content requires modification.

AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics group and what is hierarchal alignment, both depth and breadth.

UM: This year we have plan to grow the Analytics team. However, instead of just building a central analytic hub, we want to disseminate the Analytic knowledge to business managers, so that they can think and problem solve analytically.

We are therefore, investing a lot to train all the business managers and vertical heads to understand Analytics, Statistics and their implementation in Marketing and other Business domains. That way, the whole organization row towards the same goal – mapping Analytics directly to decision making, taking action and delivering value for improved business performance.

We are evaluating good Analytical S/W which can empower our Business owners with Analytical tool kits to take data driven insights. Alongside, planning to build a strong core Analytics hub to serve the whole organization with analytical rigor.

AIM: What kind of knowledge worker do you recruit and what is the selection methodology? What skill sets do you look at while recruiting in analytics?

UM: People with good knowledge of Statistics & its right application [e.g. knowing t-test is just OK, but one must know given a business problem whether to apply t-test vs F-test or Chi-square test], Big data tools, and basic understanding of business or market.

AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?

UM: 3 challenges:

  1. Shortage of right skilled people [most Analytic institution either train focusing only towards theory or tools without teaching the real life applications; while other institute teaches top level application of Analytics in Business without balancing with right technical skill building]
  2. Making people unlearn ‘ad-hoc’ decision making based on gut feeling and training to use Analytics to derive data driven insights, therefore slow adoption.
  3. Lack of organizational strategy to grow Analytics even though leadership realizes its incredible benefit.

AIM: How did you start your career in analytics?

UM: I started my career with McKinsey & Company’s knowledge hub ‘McKinsey Knowledge Center’. I was a campus hire from Indian statistical Institute, Kolkata. Almost after 6.5 years of working with International Clients across the Globe, I joined Airtel to lead their Analytics effort.

AIM: How do you see Analytics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the Analytics space across the globe?

UM: Like any other industry Analytics also follow an S curve and currently Analytics is at its sharp rise state. The days of traditional Analytics is fading where main focus was at structured dataset. Market is trending towards Non-Structured or Semi-Structured data analysis and therefore merging both of them to find the real golden nuggets from the mine of Data.

As the world is becoming more and more digital, Digital Analytics, Network Analysis, Spectral Analysis, Speech Analytics with Natural language Processing etc are taking bigger shape. Therefore the application of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence is going to step is a big way in next few years. In fact, Analytics will borrow the discoveries from Atomic Physics, Bio-Chemistry, Genetics etc and apply to Big data or Consumer data analytics.

[divider divider_color=”#777777″ link_color=”#777777″ size=”1″]

[spoiler title=”Biography of Ujjyaini Mitra” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]

MS Quantitative Economics (Indian statistical Institute, Kolkata); BSc in Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Sc. (Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chennai)

Ujjyaini has over 7.5 years of rich experience in Analytics and their detailed applications in multiple facets of Marketing, spread across industries – Telecommunication & Media, E-commerce, Retail Banking, CPG & consumer durable goods and Public Sector to name few.

Over last 1 year she is working with India’s largest telecom player Bharti Airtel’s marketing intelligence as their Head of Analytics. Whereas, in previous 6.5 years she has served multiple clients across the Globe as a part of McKinsey & Company’s Analytic hub – McKinsey Knowledge Center (McKC), India. Before parting from McKC, she was leading a team of 35 members’ Marketing & sales Center of Competence.

Her work on ‘India’s urban awakening’ and ‘Global labor market & skill shortage’ had been published in McKinsey Quarterly – an internationally acclaimed management journal. Her work interest lies in the domain of pattern recognition and its application in Marketing Science.[/spoiler]

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Bhasker Gupta
Bhasker is a techie turned media entrepreneur. Bhasker started AIM in 2012, out of a desire to speak about emerging technologies and their commercial, social and cultural impact. Earlier, Bhasker worked as Vice President at Goldman Sachs. He is a B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.

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